Floor covering warranties are getting longer, longer and longer. In fact, I recently received information extolling the virtues of a 50-year residential finish warranty on a prefinished wood product. Why is the industry creating warranties with such a long duration? Does the long-term warranty benefit the consumer or you, the retailer? Definitely not!

These extreme long-term warranties (with many caveats included in the legalese to limit warranty claims) are simply creative marketing tools, sending the wrong message to consumers: buy floor coverings once and never again. This is definitely the wrong message, and the entire industry's manufacturing community should immediately re-evaluate their warranty coverage. The length of the warranties is not allowing consumers to see the beauty and value in floor covering products.

Can floor coverings last forever? No! Automobiles don't! Cameras don't! Fashion styles don't! And neither do the many electronics we all have in our homes - like videocassette recorders, televisions and computers.

The warranty should send a message to consumers about the quality of the selected company and its products. And, consumers really want to know about the company that stands behind the warranty. Some questions immediately come to mind: Will this company be here, if necessary, at the conclusion of the warranty? What is the fine print in the warranty? Is the warranty transferable or limited to the original purchaser?

Warranties should cover products for a reasonable amount of time for appearance, wear and manufacturing defects in the applications for which the product was designed.

Consumers buying products with long-term warranties may opt to do so understanding that maybe they'll get their floor replaced following a warranty claim. But what message does that send?

The industry should join together to say that we don't want to give free replacements of floor coverings and create possible ill will towards the entire industry. We want to create a positive picture of the floor covering industry as a fashion element to be used in residential and commercial environments while vying for a larger share of the consumers' disposable dollars. We want consumers to buy floor coverings (carpet, resilient, ceramic, area rugs, hardwood, laminates) today and return a few years later desiring to update the decor while creating style, flair and fashion.